TAXPAYERS face a £60 million bill for cutting key civilian staff from Scotland’s police service, under proposals agreed by ministers and the new single force.
Proposed plans reveal that some employees will be axed but still receive 15 months’ salary and a cheque for £10,000.
Opposition parties have now raised concerns that the job losses could harm the police service.
Scotland’s eight existing forces will become Police Scotland in April, headed by Chief Constable Stephen House.
The controversial redundancy plans have been backed by minsters on the conditions that a merger would bring efficiencies and save public money.
But the Scottish Government’s policy of maintaining police officer numbers means a huge chunk of the savings will come from axing civilian staff.
Staff that are being cut perform vital support services including forensics, fingerprints and control room functions.
The controversy has centred around tensions between House and Vic Emery, who chairs the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), a body that will be the formal employer of staff.
The Scottish Government has agreed, in principle, to a national redundancy scheme which has been drawn up by the SPA.
The plan shows that for the majority of employees in their 50s, an early retirement package will be available and the pay-off will include a lump sum capped at 30 weeks’ salary.
Other staff will be offered redundancy which will include a cash payment based on the number of completed years of service.
However, a 50-year-old with 20 years’ service will get 66 weeks of pay and staff who take redundancy will get an additional £10,000 on top of their payment.
This £10,000 sum was agreed in a bid to attract younger staff to the force with fewer years of service.
In Strathclyde, it is estimated that 57% of police staff have less than 10 years of service.
The paper calculated the potential cost of the scheme on the case of 1400 staff being cut.
The results show that it would cost the taxpayer £61.3m, mainly funded by the Scottish Government, making the annual savings from staff cuts, £39.8m.
A separate SPA board paper shows that agreement has been reached on the national redundancy plans.
The paper states: “The Convenor [Emery] has now written formally to Scottish Government and formal approval by the Cabinet Secretary is expected within the next few days.”
However, concerns have been raised on the effects of the cuts with critics fearing police officers, who are normally free from desk-based duties, will be used to replace police staff roles.
Gerry Crawley, the lead negotiator for police support staff at the Unison Union, said: “In our view there is no necessity for this level of redundancy. It will result in police officers covering support staff roles, a situation that is not best value and which will end up costing the taxpayer more.
“There needs to be a balanced workforce and the arbitrary target on maintaining police officers numbers needs to be closely examined by the new service and the Scottish Government.”
A spokesman for the SPA said there was “no target” for the number of staff who may be accepted for voluntary redundancy.
He said that financial structures had been required to understand the potential impact of the scheme.
He said: “This was provided by Police Scotland and includes an indication of what the costs associated with 1400 people look like.
“That was assessed as a sensible midpoint between the best and the already much-publicised worst-case scenarios.
“As with any voluntary scheme, the numbers of staff who take VR/ER (voluntary redundancy/early retirement) will be highly dependent on the number of people who come forward.”